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Thought Experiment

#1: Your Sand Castle is Crooked"

Elementary School:  Imagine you’re in a kindergarten playground and your classmate walks by and says, “Your sand castle is crooked.” 

How does that make you feel? 

Why might that person say it? 

What if the classmate was your best friend?  Someone you didn’t know or care about?  Someone you’re competitive with?

Have you thought or said similar things to other people, or wanted to?

What are the different ways you might respond?

There are lots of different ways to respond, but the best choice depends on the reasons why the person said it.  You can’t really ever know the reasons, but here are some possibilities to think about:

What if your friend has autism or Asperger’s syndrome?  Those are developmental differences that result in a person not being able to read other people’s feelings very well. Maybe for this friend it was just a statement of a fact, like “the sky is blue.”  It’s hard to get mad at that, isn’t it?  In a case like that you might want to just nod and say something like, “Yeah, I guess maybe it is.  Want to help me fix it?” 

Do you know people who like things to be absolutely perfect?  What if your friend is someone who gets anxious when she sees things that aren’t perfectly symmetrical?  Maybe she didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, but it made her nervous to see the sand castle tipping over.

What if you loved your sand castle and thought it was beautiful?  What if you also thought it was crooked?  What if it was very crooked, but you won first prize in a contest because you were the teacher’s favorite student, or because the judge was friends with your father, and your friend was calling attention to that fact? What if the child who said it had just been humiliated by his own father, and was trying to turn the tables so he could feel better? Can you think of other reasons why a child would say that, and different ways you might respond? When should you call the teacher? When would it be OK to get really mad and say it?

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